- The Army’s highest-ranking enlisted soldier fought back with Twitter users who criticized a unit’s pro-Pride post on Friday and Saturday, hinting that those users committed “discriminatory harassment.”
- The 82nd Airborne’s tweet recommended Army families check out a “survival guide” for “questioning” teens and another describing how parents can learn to “support” their LGBGQ+ child, from the on-base library.
- “The comment section isn’t your [Area of Operations], and voicing disagreement is not harassment,” one Twitter user said.
The Army’s top enlisted leader shot back at criticisms of a post from the 82nd Airborne celebrating LGBTQ+ members in a two-day Twitter battle, tweets show.
Twitter users, many of whom described themselves as veterans in their account bios, mocked the 82nd Airborne’s Friday morning post kick-starting the unit’s observance of Pride Month as a “disgrace” and distracting from the Army’s mission, the comments show. Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston, the Army’s top enlisted leader responsible for morale and discipline issues in the service, condemned the criticism as harassment and shot back at tweets through Saturday morning as senior military leaders have not shied away from weighing in on American cultural controversies.
“The comment section is a good time to refresh ourselves with discriminatory harassment: A form of harassment that is unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity), national origin, or sexual orientation,” Grinston wrote.
The 82nd Airborne’s tweet recommended Army families check out a book called a “Survival Guide for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens,” as well as another that describes how parents can learn to “support” their LGBGQ+ child, from the on-base library. The titles are “intended for ages 13 and up,” the photo stated.
Some users praised Grinston for standing up on behalf of lesbian, gay and transgender people who serve in the Army against “bigots,” while others disputed whether their words counted as harassment, tweets show.
“The comment section isn’t your [Area of Operations], and voicing disagreement is not harassment,” one Twitter user responded at 7:59 p.m. “Many veterans including this one are disgusted by the continued degeneracy of our armed forces, so prepare to copy notes you can refer to later during your retention-crisis strategy meetings.”
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In response, Grinston tweeted a screenshot of an Army Times headline: “Army hits retention goal four months early, says top enlisted soldier,” referring to Grinston’s own June 10 announcement that the service succeeded in getting the desired number of soldiers and officers to stay on for 2023.
Grinston said the Army set a goal of retaining 55,000 soldiers, higher than the year prior, amid a planned decrease of about 12,000 to the number of total Army personnel, according to Army Times. The deficit is a function of recruiting woes; once soldiers enlist or become officers, they want to stay, Grinston explained.
“Why yes this is really something to focus on, people being mean online. Screw warfighting,” another user wrote.
“The 82nd gives their paratroopers more live fire opportunities than almost any other organization. Stay based in fact,” Grinston responded.
When one self-described U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy veteran questioned why Memorial Day is set aside to honor the fallen for just 24 hours while Pride receives the entire month of June, another user noted that DOD observes May as National Military Appreciation Month and April as the month of the military child.
“June is also Army Heritage Month – don’t see much talk about that,” Grinston said at 9:33 p.m.
The last skirmish appears to have wrapped up Saturday morning after a user claiming to be an Army Special Operations Forces veteran criticized Grinston for spending time to combat individual Twitter comments instead of “making sure … soldiers don’t need food stamps.”
Congress is deliberating a measure that would expand troops’ access to food stamps as the number of servicemembers affected by food insecurity appears to have grown in recent years, according to Military.com.
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“Like this?” Grinston replied at 10:22 a.m., linking to another Military.com explainer on the new Basic Needs Allowance that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered in September. The BNA is designed to assist U.S.-based troops who are struggling financially; critics argue that the military should pay servicemembers enough so they don’t fall below acceptable income levels.
Senior military leaders have not balked at weighing in on domestic culture issues, whether speaking independently or on behalf of the Department of Defense (DOD). Recently, a top Space Force official condemned red-state laws banning sex changes and gender education, saying they pose a “danger” to LGBTQ+ servicemembers, during a DOD Pride event on June 7.
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